Van Uitert likes his competition raw: ‘I prefer to make everything as difficult as possible’

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Van Uitert likes his competition raw: 'I prefer to make everything as difficult as possible'

Job van Uitert is not only on the eve of his sixth European Le Mans Series season in the LMP2 car (ELMS), but also about to start a new chapter in his career. During the winter break, the Brabander put his scribble on IDEC Sport’s paperwork and will put the competition to the test with his new team. He will also make his debut in the GT3 class of the Fanatac GT World Challenge Endurance.

The 25-year-old has been in the endurance section of the French team Panis Racing for the past two seasons and has achieved many successes with them. The successful formation took podiums in no fewer than four of the six races in 2022 and they did so again in 2023. With Panis, Van Uitert has also been able to drive the Le Mans twice, and he has been able to significantly add to his own CV on two occasions. IDEC did not hesitate for a moment to get Van Uitert to join the team.

“So I have a new contract with IDEC, a very good contract,” the Brabander kicks off in conversation with F1Maximaal. ‘I’m very happy with that. We have completed the first two days of testing with them, and it all feels good. The click is there, it feels just as familiar as with Panis, and now we are busy with the preparations.’ Van Uitert also seemed to feel very comfortable with Panis, even when he was given the role of becoming the leader of the French racing team. However, it was time to start something new.

IDEC pulled out all the stops for a signature

‘Panis was quite cautious about what they were going to do,’ explains Van Uitert. ‘That was not necessarily due to Olivier (Panis, team owner and former F1 driver, ed.), but to Tech 1 Racing, which runs Panis’ car.’ Tech 1 Racing used to be active in GP3 and Formula Renault 3.5, but they stopped as a racing team. ‘So Olivier has looked for another place to house his team, and now they will be working with TDS Racing.’

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Van Uitert was part of Panis Racing in the ELMS for the past two seasons. (Photo: Job van Uitert PR)

Van Uitert explains that this was only announced after the beginning of 2024, and by then IDEC had already taken its action. ‘In October, IDEC came to me and explained that they were looking for a new leader. They made a proposal that I couldn’t say no to,” says the Brabander. IDEC’s pro driver, Paloup Chatin, left for Alpine’s Hypercar, and then their eye fell on Van Uitert. What does such a good proposal entail? “You will have to look for the logos of my sponsors on the car with a magnifying glass,” says the 25-year-old with a wink.

As leader back in the leadership role: ‘How you act as a team leader is very important’

It won’t be long before Van Uitert can get behind the wheel again. Testing will take place in Barcelona on April 8 and 9, after which the first race will take place the following weekend. Van Uitert wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t set the bar high, but he is also realistic. ‘A win is difficult, because you are racing with a team. I have no influence on what my teammates do,” he explains. This year Van Uitert will share the car with Paul Lafargue and Reshad de Gerus. ‘Paul is not the fastest silver rider, we know that as a team. Then it will be difficult to compete against a trio like Johnny Edgar, Louis Deletraz and Robert Kubica.’

Some strategic luck and some safety cars here and there should help Van Uitert and associates progress in the race. “But everyone also looks at individual performance, so for my future it is important to be fast, not make mistakes and to ensure that you are among the top,” says Van Uitert. ‘You want the best possible result for the team. How you act as a team player is also very important. You want the best for the complete picture, and that is what other teams in the paddock see. That always pays off if you handle it properly.’

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Van Uitert likes his competition raw: 'I prefer to make everything as difficult as possible'
Van Uitert is again the figurehead, this time from IDEC. (Photo: Job van Uitert PR)

Vettel’s test emphasizes the Hypercar’s popularity

And so Van Uitert is working his way towards the Hypercars. “That is the main goal and the dream,” the 25-year-old sounds determined. He already had a taste of the Hypercar last winter, when he drove a test for Van Wall in Bahrain. However, Van Wall has not been granted entry into the Hypercar class of the World Endurance Championship (WEC). ‘They had already concluded the contracts with the existing drivers, but a role as a test driver was discussed. They are no longer active, so they have to wait until they get that entry.’

That’s a bit difficult, given how many teams there are from major brands such as Ferrari and Porsche. “They have a bit more leverage, politically speaking, than a small team like VanWall,” says Van Uitert. ‘Now it is important for us to really get to the table with the top teams of the Hypercars and to be able to have a say. The title is always the goal, but making progress in LMP2 is not really possible,” explains the Brabander, who now knows the LMP2 car like the back of his hand and is only too eager to take the next step.

A big name recently tested for Porsche in the Hypercar: Sebastian Vettel. The four-time world champion immediately made a stir among the fans. What is the effect of this on endurance? ‘You can just see that the Hypercar is super popular. Not only the Hypercar, but also the LMP2,” Van Uitert continues. ‘If you look at names like Felipe Drugovich, Arthur Leclerc, Frederik Vesti, who will all be riding ELMS this year. You have an incredibly strong grid with many young guys from Formula 2 and Formula 3, and that shows that people with a name are also making the transition. I think that’s only a good thing.’

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Van Uitert likes his competition raw: 'I prefer to make everything as difficult as possible'
Van Uitert’s blue racing monster and battle weapon for 2024. (Photo: Job van Uitert PR)

‘Easy’ is not in Van Uitert’s dictionary

The grids of the endurance classes are generally well filled with former champions, former F1 drivers or drivers from other classes. This year in particular, many former Formula 2 and Formula 3 drivers will appear at the start. ‘All my life I have been riding against the best drivers there are, and people often do not really recognize endurance as a class that has a high level. But now those types of guys (F2 and F3 drivers, ed.) are also testing and racing in it, and then you see how high the level is. It is absolutely the pinnacle of endurance,” says Van Uitert.

Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Van Uitert, as an LMP2 veteran, expects it to be a competitive field and he is looking forward to the battles. ‘Those guys are super fast, and what you often see with the drivers who come from Formula 2 is that they are made to push every lap. But then you have to manage a 24-hour race, and then you don’t have to push every race, although they are often like that,” says Van Uitert. ‘This gives you a completely different dynamic in the races. I’m sure I can handle it. It will be a bit more hectic, but I prefer it to be as difficult as possible. That only makes it more beautiful.’

Debut in the GT3 alongside ELMS

On Thursday, April 4, Van Uitert was proud to announce that he will make his debut in the GT3 class of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Endurance. He will compete for Comtoyou Aston Martin, with the opening round taking place on Sunday April 7. ‘I’m looking forward to this new step in my career: racing a GT3 car for the first time. I have previously tested with Comtoyou, but next weekend will be my first time behind the wheel of the Aston Martin,” Van Uitert explains in a press release. ‘So I will have to learn quickly and a lot, but I have a fantastic team and teammates around me. I’m sure I could adapt quickly.’

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Van Uitert in Comtoyou’s Aston Martin at the Nürburgring. (Photo: Job van Uitert PR)

Van Uitert emphasizes that it is an extremely strong championship, and that he has to work hard to achieve results. However, he is completely ready for that. “I can’t wait to start the season, with the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on the calendar, it will be a fantastic year,” said the 25-year-old. Van Uitert therefore faces a long and intensive season, with no fewer than two 24-hour races. His agenda is full from the beginning of April to the end of November. In June, the Dongen native will first drive the 24 Hours of Le Mans with IDEC, and two weeks later he will get into the Comtoyou racing monster to drive the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps.

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